iPad Highlights Wireless Strains on College Campuses

by VPNHaus | 04/21/2010 |Industry Commentary

The Wall Street Journal has reported on security issues hindering the adoption of tablets, like the iPad, at some colleges. Students are expected to be a major market for tablets, given the availability of electronic books and growth of wireless networks. But the piece casts doubt on the feasibility of this, with security issues among several factors leaving the college market in question.

While several colleges are openly embracing the iPad, network administrators are having fits over how to protect their campus systems under such strains. Sheer volume of wireless demand aside, students represent complex issues, ranging from rampant malware spread to jumping from on/off campus hotspots to outright network abuse.

Why the logjam? It appears the ‘latest and greatest’ wireless devices are truly next generation technology, so much so that college network technologies are being left in the dust. And rethinking wireless remote access is aging network administrators at a rapid clip.

Case in point, George Washington University has said its wireless network security features don’t support the iPad and Princeton University said earlier this week that it has blocked about 20% of the devices on its network after detecting malfunctions, with potential to impact the entire school’s systems, according to the WSJ. Cornell University has also encountered networking and connectivity snafus related to the iPad.

Despite these issues, the tablet’s appeal for colleges is evident and will likely grow. Many of the schools mentioned in the WSJ article are working to mitigate these networking problems, and solutions are expected to emerge. Even so, wrestling with network integration of hot new wireless technologies will continue to frustrate colleges as tablets become mainstream and as students demand better network access for these products.

What do you think? Should colleges restrict tablet usage because of networking problems? What can manufacturers such as Apple do to help these institutions adopt more quickly?

Let us know your thoughts.

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